This dish, kalan milagu varuval, is dry stir-fry of mushrooms strongly spiced with black pepper. Varuval is one of the typical southern dishes, and this dry, fried style is used extensively. It can be used for cooking many ingredients, and I will feature several varuval recipes in this book.
We love mushrooms, and this dish is prepared quite often in our house.
This is an easy dish to prepare, and is probably the easiest of the mushroom recipes in this book. It is an ideal accompaniment to most of the south Indian dishes in this book. If served on its own, you would just accompany it with plain rice or roti.
The black pepper and the mushroom are the bold flavors in this recipe. Instead of the usual chilli assault, the nice thing about using black pepper is that the heat is mellow and subtle. The pepper goes so well with the flavour of mushrooms and the coarsely ground spices. The fennel seeds in the spice mix are part of the reason for the unique flavour.
We use cup mushrooms for this recipe. Cup mushrooms are mature button mushrooms. Similar to the button, their caps remain closed and their flavour is slightly stronger than button mushrooms. Also, we tend not to slice the mushrooms, just halve them for appearance and texture purposes. This recipe would work well almost any type of button, cup or field mushroom. If you do slice them thinner than this recipe calls for, you will need to reduce the cooking times, as they will cook faster if sliced.
As a variation, we sometimes include thinly sliced green capsicum, which is added about halfway through cooking the mushrooms so that the capsicum retains some crunch.
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- Toast and coarsely grind the peppercorns and the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds. Set aside.
- Using a small blender, or mortar and pestle, make a coarse paste of the ginger and garlic, using as little water as possible. Set aside.
- Heat the coconut oil in a wide pan. When hot, add the mustard seeds. After a few seconds these will start to pop. Add the onion now and stir well.
- Cook the onion, stirring frequently, on a low to medium heat, for five minutes or until it starts to turn a light golden colour.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook, stirring continuously until the raw aroma has gone. This will only take about two minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, mix well, and cook on a low to medium heat, stirring frequently. Take care with the stirring as you do not want to break up the mushrooms.
- The mushrooms will take about 10 minutes to cook sufficiently, assuming they are halved, and not sliced. Initially they will release a lot of moisture - continue to fry them until this moisture has nearly evaporated and the mushrooms are almost cooked.
- Add the chilli and curry leaves and mix well. Cook for another minute, stirring continuously.
- Add ground turmeric and salt to the ground peppercorn and spices. Mix well and sprinkle over mushrooms and capsicum. Stir gently until all of the mushrooms are covered this spice mix.
- Sprinkle with coriander leaves. Stir through, and serve.
- As a variation, include thinly sliced green capsicum. Add this about halfway through cooking the mushrooms so that the capsicum retains some crunch